A friend of mine, a teacher who also led a highly competitive soccer team, recently made the decision, after 10 seasons, to step back from his role as a coach while remaining at the school. His decision was met with some surprise. He was a highly regarded and successful coach so there was certainly no pressure for him to step away.
At first my friend was nervous about his decision. He knew that there were other aspects of his job he wanted to focus on and new things he wanted to explore but coaching was where he had always felt comfortable. The end of season celebrations were hard for him as he came to terms with his decision.
A few months later, however, he is confident that he made the right decision. While he was unable to see it when he was in the midst of coaching, he had started to become resentful of the percentage of his time that was spent on soccer to the detriment of his other work. Even outside of the season, soccer was always on his mind. He realized he hadn’t even been able to watch professional soccer on tv in recent years, something he had previously enjoyed, because soccer was such a giant source of anxiety.
Stepping away from coaching brought back some of his joy of the game and it also had positive influences on the rest of his job. While it was a loss for the school to not have him as a soccer coach, he has been able to add to the community in other ways that were not possible before. His work in the classroom has become more thoughtful and he will cheerfully volunteer to chaperone trips or help out co-workers. While he hadn’t realized it at the time, he was dangerously close to burning out before he made his decision to step back and by making this change before things got too bad he was able to step back in to his organization in a productive way that will ultimately benefit everybody.